Sun Bowl – Miami Hurricanes (+2.5) versus Washington State Cougars

Posted: December 30, 2015 in College football, Football
Tags: , , , ,

header_2015This is the first all-time meeting between these schools. Both teams have played in this bowl once with Miami losing to Notre Dame, 33-17 (-2.5) in 2010 and Washington State beating Purdue 33-27 (-6.5) in 2001. Miami is in the post season for the third straight season and 16th time in the last 20 years. They are just 1-6 SU/ATS their last seven. They hired former Georgia head coach Mark Richt after the regular season, but interim head coach Larry Scott will be coaching his first bowl game here. Washington State is bowling for the sixth time in the last 20 years, but just the second in the last 12 years. They’re 2-3 SU/ATS and lost 48-45 (-5.5) to Colorado State in the 2013 New Mexico Bowl. Prior to Washington State, head coach Mike Leach was 5-4 SU/3-6 ATS in bowls while at Texas Tech.

Washington State far exceeded expectations this year. After finishing last year 3-9 they did return 14 starters, but had to break in a new quarterback. Sophomore Luke Falk proved to be the perfect fit for Leach’s Air Raid offense as he earned first team Pac-12, finishing with five games over 400 yards passing and two over 500! It’s easy to forget that they lost its opener to an FCS team, but their only other losses were at Cal and versus Pac-12 champion Stanford in games that went down to the wire. The Cougars also lost in the Apple Cup as Falk was out after suffering a concussion, but he will return here.

Miami had high expectations in head coach Al Golden’s fifth season despite just 11 returning starters. They got off to a 3-0 start, but were then upset at Cincinnati and nearly pulled the upset in their close loss at Florida State. After beating Virginia Tech, they were embarrassed at home to eventual ACC champ Clemson and Golden was fired. Tight end coach Larry Scott took over and the Hurricanes went 4-1 to close the season, with their lone loss coming to ACC Coastal Champ North Carolina on the road, 59-21, but they were only out-gained by 62 yards. They only allowed one 300 yard passer all season and have a solid pass defense overall.

While both teams have identical records, Miami enters having won four of five. The Hurricanes appear to match up well in this game as they have the talent edge and should be able to control Washington State’s passing attack. Miami should also be able to get pressure on Falk as they have a clear edge on the line of scrimmage. The Cougars leading receiver Gabe Marks was hurt in the Apple Cup and will be limited in this game. Neither will have much of a crowd edge, but Miami will look to impress their new head coach.

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